On Sunday, your humble correspondent penned a dispatch regarding comments made by Paul Pierce in which the Brooklyn Nets' veteran forward called LeBron James "one of the greatest players to ever play the game."
One of our predictions was that this was merely the gentle opening salvo to what could quickly escalate into a caustic war of words.
Consider the conversation escalated:
WADE on Pierce and Garnett: “We thought when we played them in Boston, we thought we buried them.”— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) May 5, 2014
Wade's dig is interesting on a few levels. The first being the word choice itself: "buried." As in, "these guys were really, really old. So we buried them."
So there's that. Pierce and Kevin Garnett will most definitely not enjoy hearing that.
Then there's this: Pierce and KG haven't actually squared off against the Miami Heat in the playoffs since 2012, when LeBron and company dispatched the Celtics in an epic seven-game series en route to their first of two NBA championships.
So...what were last year's Boston Celtics, exactly? The basketball equivalent of The Walking Dead? Does Boston have to vacate all of its wins for 2012-13 on account of playing cadavers, which is clearly a public health hazard?
Of course, Brooklyn's dynastic duo is bound to use this as motivational fodder, not just for themselves, but for their team—a team, let's remember, that swept the Heat 4-0 during the regular season.
As the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Ira Winderman points out, the series, which begins Tuesday, is likely to hinge on a battle of wills between Brooklyn's versatile, small-ball rotation and Miami's newfound emphasis on low-post size:
The Nets' success against the Heat, as it did against the Raptors, came with small lineups. By contrast, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra closed the regular season and then swept the Charlotte Bobcats 4-0 in the first round with a bigger lineup that featured Bosh and Udonis Haslem in the power rotation, with Shane Battier bumped from both the lineup and the rotation.
The sea of bad blood between the Heat and Celtics was wide and deep enough to float the Spanish Armada. One side's jerseys may have changed, but the animosity never cooled to below a raging boil—imbued, as it's always been, by a deep-seated respect.
Pierce and James alone have squared off against one another 25 times in the postseason alone, with Pierce leading the series, 13-12. That's as close as it gets.
So no, the Heat never really "buried" their old foes. They simply covered them over in a thin layer of dirt, only to walk by and find notes with more than a few choice words where the bodies used to be.